L1V3 L4UGH L0V3 along with Cronies as they capture an essence of punk that’s as valuable as it is engaging and serene.

Release date: October 20, 2023 | Reptilian Records | Instagram | Bandcamp

I really don’t have any desire to be young or capture my youth again. I had my fun and I can’t take or bring it back. Now I’m in my mid-30s and things are going about as well as I could realistically hope or expect. I have grown-up annoyances like health insurance woes burrowing into my dickhole, watching abject hell occur around the world, and always being tired.

Imagine how I felt, then, when I started playing Cronies‘ latest album, L1V3 S1CK0 L0VE F3ST. It was so striking and in-your-face, if not reminiscent of the music I was listening to back in my teens (because it’s not really), at least it felt like it. This feels like skate sessions with your pals, or being a mischievous little prick with them in other ways. It has that first day of a new high school year energy where all you wanna do is commence the lesser important things in your life so you can get to the good parts.

Literally, it’s a hardcore record, and a hell of a fun one at that. The NYC quartet are far beyond channeling only aggression – much like the punk institutions that came before them (anywhere from Beastie Boys to Turnstile), L1V3 S1CK0 L0VE F3ST is multifaceted, even pulling in some classic grunge tones and progressively psychedelic climaxes to color in the journey. “400 Blows” puts you off the scent of some of that variety with a relatively straightforward hardcore stomper to open up the album, but that’s just about where the simplicity ends.

“Ice Pop (Tastes Like Love)” is one of my favorite songs of the year. It’s so cheery in its execution, slamming melody down on the floor in front and never letting it leave. Guitar tones are absolutely scrumptious – bold and crunchy like a Cool Ranch Doritos chip. This song perhaps captures the vibes I was getting at earlier, but there’s other ways they’re expressed on L1V3 S1CK0 L0VE F3ST. “Rentboy” is a relatively chill affair with zoned-out, cryptic verses flanked by loud semi-hooks that dig in deep with arpeggiated guitar and bass melodies that do the same. It’s acrobatic how it goes from mood to mood, and the effects-heavy vocals pull a lot of the weight chauffeuring us back and forth between them.

Noisier still is “Hot Test Sour Mesh” which really ramps up the aggression and weirdness of L1V3 S1CK0 L0VE F3ST. The same melody and rhythm follows the track the whole time with slight shifts in the drums and riffing. “A Simple Case of a Wrenched Back” is maximal Cronies, dialing up the catchiness and energy to an apex. It reminds me a bit of Sandrider or Melted Bodies, a comparison – and compliment – I do not make lightly. Drums are huge, the guitars are fierce, and the vocals are virtually 2x speed – makes you wonder how many takes it took to nail this open-hand slapper of a track.

Capping it all off, though, is “Acid Western From the Heart”, a nine-minute marathon of psychedelic wonder and ascension that you’d never expect a primarily hardcore album to end on. The keyword I suppose is ‘acid’ – while the track has its driving moments that feel like a life-or-death race through the desert dunes, it pulls back immensely to leave you floating over a canyon of slow-mo, blurred effervescence. You’re practically able to feel the planet rotate around, almost leaving you behind as you bask in a warm ecstasy you can’t replicate elsewhere. All the sounds and samples of wildlife in the song encourage you to break from the monotony of your life and appreciate what’s around you. This track is Cronies distilled into one big helping, showing off the diversity of their sonic palette to an amazing effect.

I’m left holding a sense of nostalgia in my hands that I didn’t anticipate. It’s not the kind that makes you yearn for the past as much as it acts as a facsimile for the good times had in the past. Not a one-to-one representation of your earlier years, but a high-quality flavor substitute that brings the same bliss as before. Store-bought emotions if you will – bullion made to represent the dreams you once had, the ones you were lucky enough to make come true, and the ones still on hold. It’s remarkable that Cronies were able to capture such a raw essence with an album like this.

L1V3 S1CK0 L0VE F3ST trounces on just about any other hardcore release this year and beyond because it’s not just hardcore. There’s so much that the band poured into this pretty short album (only 31 minutes and some change) that never feels like something they’re not. You just get the sense that this is exactly what they needed to say, so they said it. There’s a ton of ground to cover here – I certainly didn’t touch on it all – which makes it a treat to dive into over and over. Cronies may do things to you that you didn’t know you wanted. My best advice is to just ride the wave, loudly and happily.

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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